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UC San Diego Medical Center Breaks Ground for the Sulpizio Family Cardiovascular Center on September 27


September 26, 2007  |  

On September 27, 2007, UC San Diego Medical Center will break ground for the Sulpizio Family Cardiovascular Center, a new 128,000-square-foot facility that includes an expansion of patient care areas of UCSD’s Thornton Hospital. The sparkling four-story project will unify UCSD’s ambulatory, clinical, and inpatient heart and stroke care in one convenient location with construction completion expected in 2010.

Schematic of Sulpizio Family Cardiovascular Center

Schematic drawing of new Sulpizio Family Cardiovascular Center

“This is where leading-edge research will be translated to patient care, giving UCSD patients access to the latest treatments, procedures, equipment, and clinical trials,” said Marye Anne Fox, Chancellor, UC San Diego. “It’s remarkable to think about the impact the Sulpizio Family Cardiovascular Center will have on our region, and the many lives that will be touched and saved here.” 

Conceptualized by architects RTKL Associates of Los Angeles, the Center’s “jewel-box” inspired glass design carefully integrates more than 20 examination rooms, four cardiac catheterization labs, four cardiac-sized operating rooms sized to accommodate complex cardiac cases, 24 intensive care and intermediate care beds, expanded imaging labs, enhanced clinical research facilities, and an expanded Emergency Department with a total of 18 private exam stations. Meticulously planned and tested, each room has been created to maximize cardiac care in a welcoming family-friendly environment.

“Thanks to the generosity of the community, UCSD is now able to bring together patient care, clinical research and training programs into one state-of-the-art facility where patients will have convenient access to today’s most sought after diagnostic and treatment options for heart and stroke care,” said Anthony DeMaria, M.D., Director of the Sulpizio Family Cardiovascular Center.

One of the distinguishing facets of the Sulpizio Family Cardiovascular Center will be the region’s only university-based fellowship training program in clinical cardiology and cardiovascular research. With projections indicating a growing need for heart specialists to care for an aging baby boomer population, the goal of this program is to develop cardiologists with advanced experience who are committed to becoming accomplished scholars and leaders. In 2007, more than 450 applicants from the U.S. and around the world competed for only four open positions.

“The Sulpizio Family Cardiovascular Center represents one of UCSD’s multiple Centers of Excellence, combining medical research, education and patient care to address the health care needs of our growing and aging population,” said David Brenner, M.D., Vice Chancellor of Health Sciences at UCSD. “Through our world-renowned research programs, we are uniquely positioned to make advances in disease prevention and pioneer new treatments and technologies that improve patient care, not only locally, but globally.”

“The Sulpizio Cardiovascular Center reflects the next step in the transformation of UCSD Medical CenterEast Campus into a lifeline of leading-edge care and translational research in Southern California,” said Rich Liekweg, Chief Executive Officer of UCSD Medical Center. “In the coming decades, UC San Diego Medical Center is committed to ensuring that patients in our region have more choices than ever to select the best possible care close to home. This project will also provide additional access to services at Thornton Hospital, which frequently operates at capacity due to increasing patient demand.”

Acute cardiac services will continue to be provided at UCSD’s Hillcrest Hospital to care for patients brought to the Emergency Department. Both sites will deliver the caliber of care and service that has helped rank UCSD Medical Center as a top-tier academic medical center in improving health through research, education and patient care, said Liekweg, noting that over $80 million in facility and program improvements are also underway at UCSD Medical Center-Hillcrest.

Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death in the United States, affecting more than 58 million Americans. While this disease does not discriminate, recent studies have shown that nearly half a million women die each year from heart disease and stroke and that more women will die from cardiovascular disease than from the top five forms of cancer combined.

The UCSD Cardiovascular Center Board has raised $30 million to support the Sulpizio Family Cardiovascular Center. This includes a $10 million leadership gift from Richard and Maria (Gaby) Sulpizio. UCSD is also grateful to Gene and Hannah Step, Betty and Bob Beyster, Anne and Joseph Coors, Diane Martin, Jerome Katzin, Peter Farrell and all the other donors whose enormous generosity is making this project a reality. The overall $171 million facility will be funded with a combination of hospital reserves, debt financing and philanthropy.

The UC San Diego Medical Center campus in La Jolla is also the site of the Moores UCSD Cancer Center, the region’s only National Cancer Institute-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center and one of only 40 in the nation, and the Shiley Eye Center complex, which includes the Hamilton Glaucoma Center, the Jacobs Retina Center and the Ratner Children’s Eye Center. Both Centers house research laboratories and clinical programs dedicated to advancing care in those specialty areas.

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About UC San Diego

Since its founding just 45 years ago, the University of California, San Diego has rapidly achieved status as one of the top institutions in the nation for higher education and research. One of ten campuses in the world-renowned University of California system, UC San Diego enrolls more than 27,000 students each year and offers degrees in a variety of disciplines, including seven professional schools. UC San Diego is also one of  five UC Health Sciences campuses, encompassing the School of Medicine, Skaggs School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences and UCSD Medical Center.  Ranked 8th best public university in the nation, 5th best public medical school, and one of the nation’s best medical centers in six specialties by U.S. News and World Report, UCSD has also been named by Newsweek as the “hottest” institution for science. 

Gifts made by alumni and friends play an important role in keeping the University and the Health Sciences at the forefront of academic, research and clinical excellence. For more information, please visit 

Media Contact: Jackie Carr, 619-543-6163,

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